DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Doom Patrol episode “Dada Patrol” is riddled with spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, residents of Doom Manor! Doom Patrol returns with a slower, less action-packed outing, but still unsurprisingly poignant and fun. Our misfits finally interact with the Sisterhood of Dada, and we meet Shelley Byron, a.k.a. The Fog; Sachiko, a.k.a. The Quiz; Lloyd Jefferson, a.k.a. Frenzy and Holly McKenzie, a.k.a. Sleepwalk.
“Dada Patrol” plunges to the depths of the Doom Patrol’s souls, with each member wrestling with the question, “Who are you?” Leave it to this show to go from Were-butts one week to thought-provoking introspection the next.
Ready to delve into “Dada Patrol”? Let’s get to it.
The episode opens with Jane (Diane Guerrero) listening to My Chemical Romance, and I always knew she was an emo kid at heart. She slips away into the Underground, where she finds Kay (Skye Roberts) in an unexpected therapy session with Dr. Harrison (Catherine Carlen). Kay needs new shoes, and she wants to venture topside to get them.
While Jane is all for Kay spending time up there, Dr. Harrison believes she’s too young to have that kind of autonomy. After Kay flees, Dr. Harrison bluntly reminds Jane that Kay taking control affects everyone in the Underground, whether she likes it or not.
Next, we see Cliff (Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan) preparing to consume his Parkinson’s medication. Vic (Joivan Wade) erects a funnel, complete with a reddish liquid to facilitate the pills’ flow into Cliff’s mechanical body. Cliff learns that his pills will take at least a few months to become effective. Vic’s system finally reignites, and Grid is back online, much to his delight.
Once Vic departs, Cliff pours over half of the pill bottle into the funnel for consumption. So, that’ll end well.
Then, Vic chats with his dad (Phil Morris). Silas discloses that STAR Labs doesn’t know about him reviving Vic’s Grid system, and they don’t have access to it. Silas apologizes for trying to turn Vic into something he didn’t want to be. Something tells me this move will boast consequences down the line, and STAR might retaliate. It could get ugly.
Later, Rita (April Bowlby) examines Larry’s (Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk) stomach, where the large mass used to be. However, now the lump resides atop his head, moving to and fro. Thankfully, it’s not a tumor.
Laura (Michelle Gomez) informs Larry and Rita about an upcoming team meeting.
At the meeting, Jane asks “Doctor Who” what’s going on. This bit made me giddy since Michelle Gomez played a Time Lord, a.k.a. Missy, on Doctor Who. Laura reveals that our heroes inadvertently freed the Sisterhood of Dada when they escaped the Ant Farm.
Now, the enigmatic organization leaves its insignia in places all over the world while foreshadowing “The Eternal Flagellation.” No, not Eternal Flatulence, although that would be on-brand for Doom Patrol.
So, Laura wants our crew to infiltrate the Sisterhood of Dada and become members — well, more like sit back and observe. Of course, the group only agrees to do this if Laura vows to get out of their hair.
Later, Laura shows Rita the footage from the Sisterhood of Dada film. We see Rita inside a glass cabinet in the movie, directing Laura and Shelley Byron’s dance from the sidelines. Her cameo only solidifies Rita’s theory that she’s a “world-renowned time traveler.”
Next, Cliff, Jane, Vic and Larry travel to Darren Jones’s coordinates he scribbled in his journal — the ones leading to the Sisterhood of Dada. Cliff’s high as a kite since he guzzled those pills. I’ve decided that high Cliff is the best Cliff.
Suddenly, Cliff spots the mass in Larry’s neck and tries to “pop it” like a zit. Larry loses control of the van, crashing it into a foggy, woodsy area.
Cliff wanders off into the fog, with Vic hot on his heels. Jane urges Larry to stay with the van, and she believes they’re at the Sisterhood of Dada headquarters.
Meanwhile, Rita and Laura drink copious amounts of alcohol and divulge their life purposes. These scenes with Gomez and Bowlby are compelling; both actresses deliver the goods. Laura bemoans her malfunctioning time machine, but Rita procures the piece she removed from it last week.
Cliff finds an ice cream truck with Holly (Anita Kalathara) slumbering inside. He rips off the backdoors to discover a spinning vortex housing Sachiko (Gina Hiraizumi). Trippy!
Then, Jane wanders into what appears to be a sweet shop. She hears Hammerhead yelling outside. She meets Shelley Byron (Wynn Everett), who informs Jane that the Underground’s inside her head. Additionally, Shelley extracts Jane from the rest of Kay’s personas. We see Kay with them, eagerly eating sweets.
Next, Vic encounters Lloyd (Miles Mussenden), who’s busy sculpting some artwork. When Vic inquires about Lloyd’s identity, the latter evades and talks in circles.
Cliff stumbles upon Sachiko, who’s in a glass case. Sachiko fears Cliff, but she utilizes her powers to bridge the language barrier between them. Shelley and Jane’s conversation veers toward Jane’s persona. Does she know who she is? Jane figures out that Shelley’s part of the Sisterhood of Dada.
Meanwhile, Lloyd launches into a deeply profound and probing monologue that cuts Vic to the quick. Lloyd questions whether Vic knows who he is and whether he understands actual suffering.
After Cliff reveals his identity to Sachiko, he confesses his fears regarding Parkinson’s and if it’ll prevent him from holding his grandson. And death!
Fraser’s always consistently fantastic as Cliff, but his vocal performance is exceptional in “Dada Patrol,” as is Shanahan’s physicality.
Sachiko, in turn, tells Cliff her worries about death. Mistaking the moment for a tender one, Cliff moves to hug her glass case. We see the glass crack, and Sachiko recoils with abject fear.
Later, Larry attempts to tinker with the van, but he’s distracted by the bewildering appearance of his son, Paul (John Getz). Larry pursues Paul into the mist.
Next, we see Laura and Rita dancing away by the time machine. They’re hard at work fixing it. Rita drunkenly encourages Laura to stay the course — her “body elephant” will return soon! However, Laura craves more gin, so that takes precedence over body elephants.
At the sweet shop, Shelley hands Jane a sundae while Kay eats her weight in ice cream. We learn that “The Eternal Flagellation” is, essentially, payback, and Shelley suffered abuse, so this is her way of retaliating against the world.
But Shelley and Jane interpret this move as transforming your pain into something productive.
Larry confronts his son, and the latter brandishes a gun. Suddenly, the gun clicks and a lobster crawls out of it. Paul mumbles gibberish, so Larry whisks his son away from the pervasive fog.
Then, while Lloyd’s steeped in pretentiousness, we see he’s sculpting a bust of Vic. Hammerhead and the other personas hammer on the windows of the sweet shop, and Shelley wonders whether the store protects them from Kay or the other way around.
Sachiko, now boasting a mask, overhears Cliff drop Laura De Mille into the conversation. That name unlocks something in each Sisterhood of the Dada member. Lloyd puts his cyclone powers to use. Holly “sleepwalks” to Cliff, punching him. His metallic body shatters Sachiko’s case, and the pair fly backward from the impact. The glass on the sweet shop windows breaks, and Shelley vows she’ll see Jane again soon.
Shelley urges Jane to tell Laura she said hello.
Suddenly, Vic, Cliff and Jane wind up back in their van. Larry cradles a disoriented Paul in his arms.
Once they arrive at the manor, Vic angrily condemns the Sisterhood of Dada and Laura. Then, he destroys the clay mask Lloyd made in his likeness. It says “Approximate Man” on the bottom, alluding to Tristan Tzara, founder of the Dada movement.
Cliff tosses more Parkinson’s pills down his funnel. He comments on his daughter’s social media that “grandpa’s getting better,” making me tear up.
Now, Jane encounters Dr. Harrison, Hammerhead and Pretty Polly in the Underground. They block Jane’s access to Kay. After the Shelley Byron snafu, they don’t trust Jane to take care of Kay.
Jane finds the candy Shelley gave her in the shop in her room, encouraging her to let loose and live a little.
Meanwhile, Larry sits by Paul’s side, hoping to nurse his son back to health. An inebriated Laura nonchalantly tells Rita she’s not the superhero she thinks she is, and Rita sets out to prove Laura wrong by turning on the time machine.
Anyone up for a trip to 1917?
“Dada Patrol” sends this season in a new direction, and I hope we’ll see more of the Sisterhood of Dada soon. I believe Rita’s heading to 1917, which is the year of Laura’s film (Okay, that and next week’s outing is titled “1917 Patrol.”).
I wonder if Jane falls for Shelley’s song and dance and attempts to carve her own identity separate from Kay. Identity plays a significant role in Doom Patrol, and “Dada Patrol” artfully explores that while pushing our characters down new, intriguing paths.
Bring on all the weird, d*ckslits.
New episodes of Doom Patrol are available to stream every Thursday on HBO Max.
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